We are delighted to share with you the three shortlists naming the projects, artists and companies that we will be considering for Unlimited’s next awards for main commissions, research and development and emerging artists.
This year’s shortlisting process was the toughest and most competitive yet, and the quality of the applications continues to be incredibly high. Our panels reviewed over 270 applications and had to whittle them down to around 50 shortlisted projects.
These artists and companies are now invited to make full applications for the deadline on 11 February 2019, and we announce which ones will receive funding in March.
We have shortlisted 19% of those who applied, including projects for our Partner Awards with Wellcome Collection, Farnham Maltings, Forest of Dean Sculpture Trail and Forma, and will commission around 40% of the works on the shortlist. This means there are hundreds of great projects that applied that are not on our shortlists, and there will be some fantastic shortlisted work that we will still be unable to fund.
Each panellist was asked to prioritise between 12-15 projects for their award strand and the shortlist was created from the projects that were most frequently selected across all the different art forms and geographical areas. If a panellist has any kind of formal relationship with an applicant or any one mentioned within an application – if they have funded their work, are close friends or family, have worked with them or for them, or anything similar – they cannot shortlist that application so that we ensure they don’t influence the process.
It’s just getting more and more diverse
Each year, the range of work just gets wider in both art form and subject matter – this time it ranges from opera to zines, from sculpture to composition and from haptic fish, Deaf choirs, Shakespeare, Somalia, guinea pigs and lesbian pirates to a fictitious history of the Disabled Armed Resistance Movement.
So if the work is all so different, what do the applications have in common? That’s easy – our commissioning criteria! Unlimited looks to support high quality work that is disability-led, rooted in innovation and ambition, includes collaboration and partnerships has the desire to tour or be shared widely.
A range of artforms
The artform range is diverse too and many artists are stretching and defying conventional definitions. Of the shortlisted projects, the breakdown is as follows:
- 31% combined arts
- 27% visual arts
- 25% theatre
- 8% music
- 6% dance
- 4% literature
However, the statistics don’t really do the breadth of ideas justice. For example, ‘music’ includes applications from, for example, Lloyd Coleman / The Paraorchestra & Friends and Ben Lunn but there is more music and sound work to be found in the combined arts – with Encounter Productions’ Deaf Choir, Cutter and Nash’s exploration of myths and future possibilities of the (non-normative) voice through sound art and music.
Similarly with dance and literature, we have Mark Smith and Joel Brown in dance, and Bim Ajadi’s hip hop music drama in combined arts, and many poets and writers are in both combined arts and theatre including Lucy Aphramor, Jackie Hagan and Matilda Ibini.
Some of the work we have previously supported at research and development stages is on the shortlist, providing the opportunity to take the work to full development: Anna Berry’s Breathing Room, Tarik Elmoutawakil’s Brownton Abbey, Joel Brown’s 111 and Jane Gauntlett’s TrueLove. Twelve other applications to develop previously supported work didn’t make it through – having previous support isn’t a factor in selection either positively or negatively. 65% of the artists and companies on the shortlist are new to Unlimited and have never been previously supported or even shortlisted by us before.
The geographic diversity
We shortlisted applications from across the country:
- England, South East 13%
- England, Midlands 13%
- England, South West 12%
- England, North 13%
- England, London 27%
- Scotland 6%
- Wales 15%
How arts organisations, festivals and other sector contacts can support the shortlist
Each applicant has until 11 February to complete their full application and has up to an hour of support and advise from our Unlimited team.
This is a great time for venues, programmers, festivals and other arts sector contacts to get involved and help the applicants make their proposals the best they can be. We email the shortlists to our 300+ Allies to see how they can support our shortlist in ways such as:
- free rehearsal space
- showcasing opportunity
- a friendly offer to check over a budget or help edit down a word count.
We ask panellists to select the work they feel best meets our criteria and not to comment on every proposal, so we cannot give feedback to unsuccessful applicants. Each shortlisted applicant that submits a full application form will receive more detailed feedback at the next stage.